Staff Projects: The Blank Canvas
*This is the first car I’ve ever driven that I felt was “mine”, the W140 S320 Long Wheel Base.
Actually, this was my grandfather’s but then he handed the keys over to me because it was too low for him to enter without having a hard time. Being a young adult who was handed over a set of keys to a fancy Mercedes S-class, I took it on an impulse. I took it to Legends meets, out of town drives, and everything an immature young adult could do with a land yacht. Over the past few months though it felt like driving the W140 was more of a chore rather than something I passionately enjoyed. The car felt great (Mercedes is the best luxury car brand after all) but something was missing; It literally felt as if I was driving from Point A to Point B in a fancy vehicle with no driver involvement. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the S-class but I can’t see myself enjoying it as much as driving a car with sporting intent.
When I first heard of the 86, I was never a fan of it. Partly due to its power (or lack thereof) and the associated stereotypes of people driving the 86 (egoistic, arrogant, and prideful kids), taking ownership of the car didn’t really paint a decent picture. Over the past few years though, I learned to look beyond those factors and appreciate the car itself. The 86 is slow (hell, even Jeremy Clarkson was reading a book while drifting an 86) and I’ll accept that, but the “fun-factor” of driving the car makes you forget about all the trivialities that come with power. For a car enthusiast whose family loves SUV’s and luxury cars, the 86 is worlds away in terms of performance. A true drivers’ car with a competitive price point.
One aspect that makes the Toyota 86 appealing is the potential for creativity on this platform is absolutely infinite - there is effectively no limit to one’s creativity. The 86 is absolutely fantastic if you’re an avid car enthusiast; a car that acts as a blank canvas waiting for the artist’s wildest imagination. From bolt-on modifications all the way to out-of-this-world builds like Ryan Tuerck’s GT4586 drift car to rally modified 86’s, this platform can do it all.
As funny as this sounds, I’d compare the 86 to Eevee (yes, the Pokemon). Okay, hear me out here: Eevee is a “normal type” pokemon when you catch it at first, but then when you acquire evolution stones that’s when you get to choose what type of Pokemon Eevee is: whether that be electric, water, fire, and so on and so forth. Now for the 86, with the different types of scenes, disciplines, and the variety of parts that are offered we have those “evolution stones” to decide what type of build or direction you want to pursue with the car.
I took ownership of this particular 86 on June 7, 2020. This is a bone-stock, 2014 model with approximately 25k kilometers on the clock. It’s pretty well-kept, however, there are small cosmetic damages that bother me. At least they are easily repairable. The car is really well-maintained considering the previous owner was an elderly gentleman. Besides all that, this car is a dream to drive. I’ve never driven a car that could corner so well since I grew up surrounded by Land Cruisers and luxury sedans. The 86 in the garage sticks out like a sore thumb (it just doesn’t fit in), but this car reminds me of why I fell in love with cars in the first place, so it being different with the rest of the lineup doesn’t bother me.
As someone who entered the car scene with little experience and knowledge, I want to keep things simple: a set of coil-overs, wider wheels & tires, an ECU remap (torque dip elimination), and a full exhaust system. As a daily driver, I want my 86 to be the “one car to do it all.”
After a lot of time thinking about deciding which car to buy and consultation with more experienced car enthusiasts, I believe it’s safe to say this car is perfect for me. It may not be the newest model nor have some semblance legendary status, but this car never fails to amaze me. After almost 3 weeks of ownership, I have to say there’s a lot to learn about the car and I believe that this would make for a good companion as I try learn valuable lessons about being a well-rounded car enthusiast.
Special thanks to my family for giving me the opportunity to own such a car and my friends for giving me the proper guidance and advice on how to take care of my new machine. Here’s to hoping this car turns out to be a cool build!
Words and Photos by Jakob Go